Brittle in the Sun

Peter Galer, a freshman at Lansing Community College, shares about going on a Kairos Mission Trip to Agua Prieta.

“Mike Kramer (Kairos Mission Trips Director) came and did a presentation at our youth group. Last year was my senior year of high school and I had never gone on a mission trip, even though I had heard the ‘mission trip pitch’ many times. That day, some buddies in the youth group and I just looked at each other and it was, ‘Yup, we’re going.’

“Our trip had 14 guys and 3 staff participating. When we got out of the bus in Douglas, Arizona, it was like being hit with a heat wave for this boy from Michigan. Wow.

“We walked over the border into Mexico pushing wheel chairs, needed by a mission group. It was pretty amazing and random. Obviously, getting into Mexico is a lot easier than getting back! Douglas is a normal U.S. city. Over the border, a couple of miles away, is Agua Prieta. The difference is night and day. At first I thought that someone had ‘pranked’ the town of Agua Prieta; trash was EVERYWHERE. I soon learned that dealing with trash is not a priority; there are many other needs.

“Our days began and ended with prayer together. The consistency was great and praying with the guys was really good and uniting for us. It strengthened our relationships and made us feel like a real community of Christians living mission.

“At the worksite, we did various jobs. We started a house by digging the foundation and then pouring the cement, preparing it so the girls mission trip after ours could build the walls. A lot of the time before that was spent working on bricks. They are made of horse manure – really. The bricks would be too brittle in the sun, so we mixed dirt and rocks from the desert with concrete and mortar and then plastered this on the walls (stucco) over the bricks. You have to cover every bit of the walls.

“We dug the latrine for the house (four feet across, four feet wide, and nine feet down). We also dug the piping for the PVC vent and covered the hole with a thicker concrete mix. All this was a lot harder than we thought it would be.

“Working together allowed me to see the strengths and gifts of the different guys. Some of these guys were as young as 14; I was really struck by their Christian maturity. I would not have been where they were on a mission trip at 14 (I’m 18). Some of us were more used to manual labor. Some guys were incredibly smart, as in ‘you have to do the formula conversion to fluid ounces’ when we were trying to figure out how to build a latrine. Everyone brought something to the table.

“We also spent time with orphans who lived about half an hour away in a city called Naco. We played games with them and went swimming with them – the kids would be really excited and talk and talk. Only a few of us spoke Spanish. They probably couldn’t figure out how guys as old as we were didn’t know how to speak!

“During this trip, I learned some things about myself. I realized that I was not a very sympathetic person to those in need. My view was that they should just work hard and push through. But, being in a place with such poverty, seeing people working 12-14 hours every day and being happy they have work at all, caused me to reevaluate. For example, there was a 74-year-old guy there who arrived in the morning before us, worked longer than we did, and never took a lunch break. He always acted happy and grateful. I saw that I complain WAY more than they do. I learned how difficult other people’s lives are and how good I have it. I also learned that if you are on kitchen duty, you keep working even if you are dead tired!

“Even though it was tough, I would love to be there on mission longer than the 10 days we had.”